: Level Ride keeps going off on 93 Fleetwood, sits low!



CADDYDADDY13
11-24-09, 11:22 PM
The level ride keeps going off every couple of minutes on my 1993 Fleetwood. It is definately sitting lower, and i see raise up when the compressor kicks in, but drops after sitting. When i walk out to the car after it has been parked I hear the compressor running and can see the dash level ride light on. While driving it goes off constantly. This just started happening a few days ago. The car only has 59,000 on it, but it sat undriven in a garage for 3 years before i got it in September this year.

I had my oil changed yesterday and the mechanic said my shocks were blown. He said to replace the whole system its gonna cost $738!!!!!! This was at Monroe Muffler. I think that, that is very high. Need some input. Any suggestions, or does this sound fair?

On the plus side I saw the undercarriage of the car up on a lift for the first time, and WOW!!! Never seen a car as clean! Every mechanic there came over and was talking about it and told me how lucky I was to find a car like it! None of them could believe it.

MudAnt
11-24-09, 11:29 PM
The compressor has a time-out so it doesn't burn out if there is a leak somewhere in the level ride system, which seems to be your problem.

sven914
11-24-09, 11:42 PM
What is entailed in replacing the whole system?

I had my rear shocks replaced at Monro in 08 and the entire bill was $620, and I had the front suspension and the exhaust done at the same time. The two rear shocks only cost $263, labor included. I believe the air shocks are the same on the 93 Fleetwood, as were used on the '80's RWD's, because when they wrote up the service order, they put my car down as a 93-96 Fleetwood Brougham (and after I corrected them, they just reprinted the invoice).

CADDYDADDY13
11-25-09, 12:26 AM
The compressor has a time-out so it doesn't burn out if there is a leak somewhere in the level ride system, which seems to be your problem.

So is there a way to fix this? Does this definately mean there is a leak in the system?

And as far as the price I was quoted, it was my understanding that it was for all four shocks. And something about the air ride which made it more expensive.... He said that there system was an aftermarket system, that wasn't readily available. He had to special order it.I might take it somewhere else and get another opinion.

sven914
11-25-09, 01:14 AM
So is there a way to fix this? Does this definately mean there is a leak in the system?

And as far as the price I was quoted, it was my understanding that it was for all four shocks. And something about the air ride which made it more expensive.... He said that there system was an aftermarket system, that wasn't readily available. He had to special order it.I might take it somewhere else and get another opinion.

Yes the compressor constantly running means that there is a leak in the system. And because the car rises when the compressor is running, then the leak is in the rear shocks. To stop the compressor from running, you can disconnect it, which is a good idea because excess running can damage it.

The front shock on that car are not air shocks. If you don't believe they are blown, then you can test them yourself by leaning on the front bumper of the car; when you get off, it should bounce up and down once and then stop.

Monroe makes air shocks that can replace factory. Air shocks are more expensive, but I don't understand how their own parts wouldn't be readily available, and would require special order. The Monro I went to was able to order the GM shocks, which they said were better.

I would get a second opinion.

thefleetwoodguy
11-25-09, 10:06 AM
I have a good set of air shocks from a 93, if you need them
its not a hard job to replace them
most often the avg mechanics really dont understand how the level ride system works
it is VERY common to switch to a standard air fitting and keep the shocks at a
comfortable level, and bypass the level ride compressor all together

CADDYDADDY13
11-25-09, 11:30 AM
How much will doing that affect the ride?

thefleetwoodguy
11-25-09, 06:11 PM
wont hurt the ride at all
but if you tank up and put a couple of guys in the back seat
you would need to give it a shot of air
I did this on my 94 fltwd, and its rare that I have to
add air, plus it always sits right
before that id check out the system
may be as simple as a loose fitting
I would pull the max fuse for the level ride
located under hood pass side, "big" fuse block
thinks its a green #30, at least until you get it sorted out

highwaycruiser
11-25-09, 06:23 PM
Did mine on my 94 roadmaster, bought the delco air rides, & bit the bullet on them looked at the other air ride out there, & was not impressed, my system is functional, my F wood same year prevoius owner replaced shocks & now you have to add air via a schrader vlv, pain in the ass, rather have the comprssor working, will change this out on my f wood next year. To change them youself helps tp havea air rachet & two long extensions, have to raech up & put the 7/16 box on the bolt & use the air rachet to undo the nut, all this is more convient if you've got the car on a lift, once again if your comprsseor is functional, then stick with the delco shocks. more relaible. THATS THINKING WITH YOUR DIPSTICK JIMMEY!!

drmenard
11-25-09, 06:30 PM
Before I changed anything I would find the leak.. Sure shocks can go bad and leak but so can the plastic air lines crack and leak... I'm willing to bet a week pay if you took your car to one of those shops with a bad air line, they would tell you that you needed a whole new system.. Now try to find a honest guy to find the leak.. not fix it , just find the leak...I use a lab bottle with 1/2 dish soap and 1/2 water... back it on car rams and get under there and spray the shocks and lines and find the leak... the pump is in the left front of the car .. follow the air lines to it if the shocks don't show a leak..a break in a air line can be repaired with a union...new air shocks at autozone are $100 or less. but if your not the kind of guy that has changed shocks before its a imposable job...You got to find who will give you honest work.. what I mean is , it should take maybe 2 hours to change the rear shocks, so two hours labor and $100 for the shocks is fair and honest...

brougham
11-25-09, 06:51 PM
Your springs are bad too or else it wouldn't be sitting low to begin with. Get that fixed and then deal with the leveling stuff.

sven914
11-25-09, 11:25 PM
Your springs are bad too or else it wouldn't be sitting low to begin with. Get that fixed and then deal with the leveling stuff.

The rear springs on cars with with level ride are softer than regular coil springs. They're not made to hold the entire weight of the car, so they press down farther. So the springs are probably not broken.

And even if they were broken, the priority would be in getting the compressor to shut off. The back end goes up when the compressor is running, which means the compressor and all of the air lines are good and not leaking, otherwise the body wouldn't move. The car then slowly drops back down, which means it's leaking out of the shocks.

So, get the leveling stuff dealt with before you have problems with the compressor.

MT-ED
11-26-09, 10:19 PM
Agree with Sven. The self-levelling shocks form part of the overall weight support so when the pressure is low the springs alone will not support the car at correct ride-height. If you put regular shocks on and ex the air system you'll need stiffer rear springs to regain a level car in unloaded condition. Put 2 or 3 big buddies in the rear seat though and there'll be no self compensation.

I suspect a very slow leak either at a hose junction or in one of the shock air bags. My suspicion is that the shock bags may have dry rotted during the car's lay-off period. Obviously the leak is minimal.

I recently got all my '91's shocks replaced. As an example of the load bearing of the rears, with old leaky shocks on the rear I could push the car down with one hand and no body weight. With new shocks I had to lean on the rear fender to make it budge. The bounce test quoted is the best way to determine actual damper action within each corner's shock. More than one bounce and your hydraulic part of the shock is gone.

It cost me a tad over CDN $1000 to replace all 4 shocks plus the rear brake shoes and drums, so the USD quote you have sounds about right for 4 shocks. The killer is the labour. If you have the facilities and capability to do it yourself, you'll save a bunch. I used to be a mechanic, but no longer have the facilities to do the work myself. The transformation you'll experience in ride-quality has to be experienced to be believed.

Martin.

brougham
11-27-09, 10:22 PM
The rear springs on cars with with level ride are softer than regular coil springs. They're not made to hold the entire weight of the car, so they press down farther. So the springs are probably not broken.

And even if they were broken, the priority would be in getting the compressor to shut off. The back end goes up when the compressor is running, which means the compressor and all of the air lines are good and not leaking, otherwise the body wouldn't move. The car then slowly drops back down, which means it's leaking out of the shocks.

So, get the leveling stuff dealt with before you have problems with the compressor.

Shocks aren't made to hold the weight of the car. Even air ones. That's what springs are for. If the compressor is going off nonstop then yes there is a problem with it but at the same time if it is sitting so low that it's worth complaining about then the springs are also worn out. After the compressor comes on the 1st time when you start the car it should hardly ever come on again unless there are a bunch of people or other stuff in the back of the car.

sven914
11-27-09, 11:07 PM
Shocks aren't made to hold the weight of the car. Even air ones. That's what springs are for. If the compressor is going off nonstop then yes there is a problem with it but at the same time if it is sitting so low that it's worth complaining about then the springs are also worn out. After the compressor comes on the 1st time when you start the car it should hardly ever come on again unless there are a bunch of people or other stuff in the back of the car.

You know, you're right... The shocks aren't made to hold the weight of the car. Thats why they put springs back there. But the springs can't hold the car either and thats why they put shocks there too.

The suspension components work together to keep the car level and if one breaks, then the body drops down. We know that the shocks are bad, because the compressor is running every few minutes (which isn't normal if you were thinking it was), so that means the car is sitting low because the shocks are blown. If the springs were also broken (along with the shocks, which are obviously broken), then the bumper would literally be dragging on the ground.

brougham
11-27-09, 11:31 PM
You know, you're right... The shocks aren't made to hold the weight of the car. Thats why they put springs back there. But the springs can't hold the car either and thats why they put shocks there too.

The suspension components work together to keep the car level and if one breaks, then the body drops down. We know that the shocks are bad, because the compressor is running every few minutes (which isn't normal if you were thinking it was), so that means the car is sitting low because the shocks are blown. If the springs were also broken (along with the shocks, which are obviously broken), then the bumper would literally be dragging on the ground.

The springs are supposed to be able to hold the weight of the car. You shouldn't have to depend on the leveling system to hold the car up at all. If the springs are broken then yeah the back would be really low but if they are just worn out it would only sit lower then normal depending on how worn out they are. Until the air suspension does more work then it's supposed to to hold it back up and that's when other problems like this can start. The mounting brackets for the shocks also aren't made to hold much weight either and can get damaged if they are. Its a 16 year old car. Parts don't last forever especially springs.

sven914
11-28-09, 12:57 AM
When the air shocks on these cars go, they sit low. It doesn't have anything to do with worn springs that it's sitting low. Because these cars have air shocks and because they are Cadillac's, they have softer rear springs to give a more cushioned feel. The way the air shocks work, is when the hight sensor detects a load on the body, they pump up with air to level the car. When they fill up with air, they physically move the car body, which means they're load bearing. When they deflate and the car is off, they retain 7-14 PSI, so they are always load bearing. This guy's shocks are not holding any air, which means all of the load is sitting on the soft springs, which are not meant to support the body at the ideal ride hight.

But yes, you are right that the springs could be worn and the car is sitting lower than it should be (with blown shocks), and your also right that worn springs could have contributed to the failure of the shocks. But your statement about how the springs were priority over the shocks is wrong. The shocks can go out without any contributing factors except age. As you said, "Its a 16 year old car. Parts don't last forever..." Ideally CADDYDADDY should replace everything from the from A-arms to the axle shaft, this way he's starting out with a brand new car, but when you're chasing ghosts on a broken car and don't have the money to find them all, you have to designate priorities and unfortunately that is what's broken now, and not what might have caused it.

brougham
11-28-09, 03:25 AM
Yes the system always does have pressure but its not enough to do much. Like you said they pump up when there is a load on the body and if the car is just sitting with not much in it there is no extra load and the springs are supposed to be able to hold this weight. If they can't they are worn out and the air suspension is doing more work then it's supposed to which can damage parts and cause problems. Is that what made this level ride problem? Who knows but its not helping any. You wouldn't ideally replace parts like you just said because they don't wear out. What's worn out now sounds like the springs. It can be driven perfectly fine with the leveling system disconnected.

mjs182004
12-01-09, 12:16 AM
sounds like your air shocks are bad. i recently bought a set for mine(91 brougham) for 75 bucks at Murray's(Oreilys). mine was doing the same thing yours is. with the new shocks the level ride comes on maybe once or twice a day, and not every 5 minutes. i was worried that i was gonna screw up the air lines(being that I've never dealt with them before), but they were the easiest thing to do for the entire job. good luck! and let us know how it turned out!

CADDYDADDY13
12-05-09, 01:28 AM
Well, the car isn't sitting crazy low..... just lower than normal. the bottom of the fenderskirt used to sit above the center cap of the rim. now it sits at about the mid-point of the center cap. I haven't driven the car much the past week, and i've noticed that the compressor doesn't go off once the car has been sitiing for over a day? But once started up, the compressor goes off...and off...and off. and goes off, on and off, when parked after driving, for about an hour afterwards. The car still rides fine, just annoying to hear the compressor and see the level ride light on every couple of minutes.
I'm going to take it to someone else and see what they say. Unfortunately winter has come Buffalo now, so it looks like this will have to wait til the spring. I'm just going to store her and disconnect the battery.

sven914
12-05-09, 01:40 AM
When the rear shock on my 89 went, the fender skirt was sitting just below center of the center cap. But the springs did not need to be replaced, and since I had the work done, I have had absolutely no problem with the level ride. So just get the shocks replaced and your car will be fine.

The car is still drivable, but you need to disconnect the compressor. There should be a wiring harness around it with a plug that you can unplug and the compressor will stop. But if you have another car, Cadillacs aren't meant for winter.

brougham
12-06-09, 01:36 AM
If its sitting that low theres a problem and the leveling system isn't supposed to hold it that much higher. If you're taking it to another place goto one that knows Cadillacs. At least they'd have a better idea of what's going on then a normal garage would.

SSG
12-06-09, 05:02 AM
It may be just the exhaust valve in the compressor head that isn't closed properly and allowing air to slowly exhaust. It can be a bad line or fitting. The compressor will cycle on every 2.5 minutes. I guess the big question is "DOES THE CAR RISE UP LEVEL IN A NORMAL HEIGHT QUICKLY?" If the shocks were bad the car wouldn't raise up normally. It would keep the compressor on for a much longer time. Is this happening? As far as what supports the car weight; The springs support the car fully with no air in the shocks. The air bladders in the shocks raise the body higher taking some of the pressure off the springs. The purpose of a shock is to stop the springs from bouncing uncontrolably when the car goes over bumps.